aledictorian at New York med school, surgeon's daughter Zoe Hart declines an offer to join obscure Alabama Gulf town Bluebell's senior doctor Harley Wilkes to join his country practice, but he kept sending postcards. When she's told to get a year of practice experience to develop patient in order to be admitted to the surgical training, she finally accepts, to her mother Candice Hart's distress. Harley meanwhile died but named her heir to what's actually only his half of the practice which local Dr. Brick Breeland wanted to continue alone. Zoe hesitates whether to stay, appreciating helpful gentleman local lawyer George Tucker and ex-national sports hero Lavon Hayes, now the native mayor, but starting badly with womanizing estate caretaker Wade Kinsella and misled by her first patient who faked an eye test before running over George. Yet an unwanted pregnancy proves decisive.

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